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Conservator Rossella Lari while restoring Judas

Conservator Rossella Lari while restoring Judas

How the Art Defense Fund was born

'Who will want to adopt Judas Iscariot?' AWA's International Advisory Council member Margaret MacKinnon shares how the idea for 'adopting Judas' came about.

"Last November, my husband Wayne and I decided to adopt Saint Judas Thaddeus from Plautilla Nelli's Last Supper in honor of his stepmother, Beverley McLachlin, who was then just about to retire as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. While doing research on Saint Jude, we learned that he became the saint of lost causes because, it seemed, people only prayed to him when they were desperate – they tended to avoid seeking him out for fear that their prayers might inadvertently be directed to the Other Judas – Judas Iscariot – who had no saintly power to help them. This, in turn, made us wonder 'who will want to adopt Judas Iscariot?' Will Nelli's Last Supper be left with one homeless Apostle after the other eleven have been spoken for?

We held a reception in London this past February for Chief Justice McLachlin which was attended by many of her U.K. colleagues including eminent judges, lawyers and legal scholars. In his tribute to the Chief Justice, Wayne noted that the Other Judas – the one generally depicted in Last Suppers sitting on the wrong side of the table, without a halo – had not yet been adopted. Addressing the assembled guests he stated, 'I have before me a room full of distinguished advocates. Could there be a better place to find someone to take on the case of an admittedly unpopular defendant?' This was the moment that led to the creation of the Art Defense Fund."